When a tank full of an unknown substance exploded at 10:45 am Friday at the W.R. Meadows plant in Hampshire, IL, the sound was heard by residents nearly a mile away. Two plant workers were cleaning the exterior of the tank in Building P when disaster struck; the chemical explosion killed one and critically injured the other.
Authorities quickly evacuated the surrounding community for safety reasons as an inspector visited the site to determine the building’s structural integrity. The explosion had reduced a section of the plant to rubble, destroying at least one exterior wall.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but the plant, which is used to manufacture asphalt and concrete products for building construction, has a history of serious safety violations. In January 2019, when employees were cleaning a different tank, one worker fell more than 10 feet, sustaining head and back injuries that left the worker hospitalized. OSHA cited the company with two separate violations after investigating the incident.
OSHA is responding to the scene of Friday morning’s explosion alongside local authorities, making this their fourth inspection of W.R. Meadows since 2017.
Companies like W.R. Meadows are responsible for the safety of their workers as well as the communities surrounding their manufacturing complexes. Their negligence puts lives at risk, and our hearts go out to the families affected by this tragedy. Our plant explosion attorneys at Arnold & Itkin will be following this case closely as the situation develops.